Solar Panel Safety


As solar panels become increasingly common upon rooftops, questions about whether or not they’re safe perpetuate. Designers and manufacturers continue to address concerns while innovating solar panel technology in the process.


Solar panel safety issues largely fall into three categories. First, installation is a concern, given the weight of panels and the heights they’re lifted. There have been incidents of solar panel installers receiving serious injury - or even dying - as a result of falls over a roof edge or through skylights. Another installer died when he was electrocuted after a metal brace touched a nearby powerline, sending him falling from the scaffolding upon which he stood. The solar panel industry has addressed these risks and potential dangers by developing safety training programs, while implementing Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for both construction and general industry workers alike.


Fear of electrical surges similarly weigh heavily on the solar panel industry. Like any electronic device or system, however, spikes in voltage created by solar panels can be mitigated by surge protection systems. This is especially important in areas where lightning is common, a common cause of solar panel damage and failure.


Another area of concern is the solar panels themselves. While designs attempt to disperse heat evenly throughout a solar panel, “hotspots” often emerge. These hotspots can cause small or large fires alike.


In 2019, Walmart sued Tesla as a result of seven devastating fires that broke out atop stores equipped with Tesla’s solar panels. The multi-million dollar lawsuit alleged Tesla was guilty of, “widespread, systemic negligence” and “failed to abide by prudent industry practices in installing, operating and maintaining its solar systems.”


The lawsuit between Walmart and Tesla was later settled, but the entire event brought media attention to something engineers continue to address. Hot spots do, in fact, occur on solar panels, the result of one defective, shaded, soiled, or poorly joined solar cell disrupting a current.


With design playing a significant role in exactly how and what results from a solar panel gone awry, new solar panel patents reflect continued progress in eliminating hotspots. In 2015, IdealPV patented their revolutionary solar technology, applying the Law of Forward Zero Hot Spot (FOZHS). The Law of FOZHS, as described by the company, “states that the conductance of a solar cell falls as its voltage becomes more negative.”


Once that conductance declines and the voltage reverses, the solar cell itself begins to heat up. IdealPV has designed a solar panel that keeps the conductance of solar panels high, eliminating unnecessary, costly, and dangerous negative or reverse voltage.


We’ve joined forces with IdealPV, putting their efficient, safe solar panels to the test. Together, CLGP and IdealPV provide solar panels with no hotspots, extending the lifetime of the solar systems themselves.


An overall decrease in energy loss, reduction of mechanical stress, and higher level of reliability adds to the benefits CLGP brings to communities. Additionally, by not having to worry about dirt, shadows, and other potential solar panel impairments to the same degree as competitors and colleagues, IdealPV and CLGP can enter previously dismissed or overlooked areas. Together, IdealPV and CLGP facilitate, “unprecedented levels of cost efficiency, performance, and safety.”


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© 2020 By CHERP Inc.

CHERP Locally Grown Power is a program of  CHERP Inc. Community Home Energy Retrofit Project a 501(c)(3) public charity